North Weald Airfield

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North Weald Airfield
North Weald ATC - geograph.org.uk - 268851.jpg
The control tower at North Weald
Summary
Airport type Public/ Unlicensed
Operator Epping Forest District Council
Location North Weald
Elevation AMSL 321 ft / 98 m
Coordinates 51°43′18″N 000°09′15″E / 51.72167°N 0.15417°E / 51.72167; 0.15417Coordinates: 51°43′18″N 000°09′15″E / 51.72167°N 0.15417°E / 51.72167; 0.15417
Website North Weald Airfield
Map
EGSX is located in Essex
EGSX
EGSX
Location in Essex
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
02/20 6,171 1,881 Asphalt/concrete
12/30 2,703 827 Asphalt/concrete

North Weald Airfield (ICAO: EGSX) is an operational general aviation aerodrome, in the civil parish of North Weald Bassett in Epping Forest, Essex, England. It was an important fighter station during the Battle of Britain, when it was known as the RAF Station RAF North Weald. It is the home of North Weald Airfield Museum. Although unlicensed it is home to many private aircraft and historic types, and is host to a wide range of events throughout the year, including the Air-Britain Classic Fly-in and smaller airshows.

History[edit]

Royal Flying Corps Station North Weald Bassett aerodrome was established in the summer of 1916 during the First World War by the Royal Flying Corps. Later it became Royal Air Force with effect from Monday 1 April 1918. Its military functions continued to develop during the interwar period, with the building of large hangars and accommodation for Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel. The airfield played an important part in the air defence strategy of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Initially Hawker Hurricanes were deployed at the airfield, alongside Bristol Blenheim night fighters. The Hurricanes from North Weald saw action over the beaches of Dunkirk and played a key role in the Battle of Britain. In 1940, two American Eagle Squadrons moved into North Weald supplied with Spitfires. A couple of years later, Norwegian squadrons were reassigned to the airfield.

Following the war jet fighter squadrons were based at North Weald. The sight of Gloster Meteors and de Havilland Vampire fighters in the west Essex skies was commonplace from 1949. In the late 1940's and early 50's an Air Training Corps gliding school also operated at North Weald on weekends, teaching cadets up to certificate A. Later the Essex Gliding Club was formed at North Weald and operated for many years until local airspace congestion forced a move to Ridgewell in North Essex.

The last front line combat unit, No. 111 Squadron RAF flying Hawker Hunters, the famous Black Arrows of 22 loop formation fame, left North Weald in 1958. In 1964 the RAF withdrew from the airfield completely.[1] The airfield spent time in both British Army and Royal Navy hands for a short time until in 1979 North Weald became surplus to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) operational requirements and was sold to Epping Forest District Council.

A Spitfire Mk VI at North Weald in 1942

Civilian use[edit]

North Weald is a general aviation airfield with just over 20,000 movements[2] per annum, connecting people from London and Essex, with destinations across England and abroad by air travel.

North Weald is home to several vintage and veteran aircraft such as the Spitfire, Mustang, Kittyhawk, Dakota, Skyraider, Seafire and Harvard,[citation needed] and also home to early ex-military jets such as the Hunter, Venom, Vampire, Gnat, Jet Provost, along with general aviation types such as the SportCruiser, Cessna 172, Piper PA28, Aero AT3 and the Cirrus SR22.[citation needed] Resident organizations include Area 51, Hangar 11 Collection, Aces High, and Kennet Aviation.

An original 1927 hangar remains, as does the former Officers Mess, a Grade 2 listed building. Some former married quarters dating from the early 1970s (and now in private ownership) can be seen in Lancaster and York Roads. A Hawker Hurricane Mk1 replica has been erected near the main gate and can be viewed on market days.

On occasions North Weald has 300 to 500 movements a day.

Aircraft Exhibit at North Weald Airfield

The airfield was granted listed status in 2005.[3]

There is a large Saturday market based on the airfield which draws huge crowds from around Essex and North London. It claims to be one of the largest open air markets in the UK. Bus service 522 operates a frequent service to the market from Harlow, and the service is subsidised by the company that owns the market.

The airfield was used as the transit camp for the 2007 World Scout Jamboree.

In the 1990s, the Aces High hangar was used as the home for Channel 4's TV game show The Crystal Maze, which had moved from Shepperton Studios because of lack of space.

Fixed Based Operators[edit]

There are two FBOs at North Weald who provide aircraft maintenance and repair, handling and cleaning, refuelling and hangarage services, as well as visitor parking and events organising.

North Weald Flying Services or The Squadron established in 1989, is a licensed general aviation aircraft maintenance company in accordance with EASA Part M Sub Part G, Part 145 and M5.[4] It has a World War II style bar and restaurant for their members, who typically consist of aviators, aircraft enthusiasts, and their guests.[5]

Weald Aviation is a licensed general aviation aircraft maintenance company offering A8-20 maintenance and E4-M5 design approvals, with specialist knowledge on various types of warbirds and ex-military aircraft.[6]

North Weald Airfield Museum[edit]

The focus of the North Weald Airfield Museum is the people who worked at RAF North Weald in World War I and World War II, including both service personnel and civilians.[7] Exhibits include photographs, personal memories, and artifacts about the airfield's history, including its role in the Battle of Britain, the American and Norwegian squadrons stationed there in World War II, and the Royal Air Force squadrons stationed there over the years. The museum is located in the former RAF North Weald Station Office.[8] Visitors can examine military vehicles and historic aircraft.

North Weald Fire Rescue[edit]

North Weald Fire Rescue are an private independent fire and rescue service, from Great Dunnow, who are based on the airfield. Crews with their fleet of vehicles, have been in attendance during events on the airfield since 1987.[9]

RAF North Weald Memorial[edit]

The RAF North Weald Memorial with the Norwegian Memorial at the centre

The RAF North Weald Memorial is dedicated to all who served at North Weald. Located near the airfield's main gate, the memorial was dedicated in 2000.[10] The memorial includes an obelisk erected in 1952 by the people of Norway in commemoration of the Norwegian airmen stationed at the airfield in World War II.

Development controversy[edit]

The East of England Regional Assembly on its Draft Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England examination in public exercise asked members of the public for comment on the possibility of the airfield location being used as the site for a development plan for 6,000 houses. It received over 6800 objections and followed on strong lobbying against the project by local residents.[11]

National Police Air Service Unit[edit]

On 7th September 2017 it was provisionally agreed by Epping Forest District Council to allow the National Police Air Service Unit, (formally the Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit) to operate 3 helicopters and 1 fixed wing aircraft from North Weald Airfield with a 25 year lease.[12]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Three people were killed in a mid-air collision in 2000.[13] The AAIB report [14] in part concluded that 'The collision occurred because the pilots of both aircraft did not see the other aircraft in sufficient time to take effective avoiding action'.

On Sunday, 9 May 2010, a light aircraft crashed into a Volvo car at the airfield [15] and burst into flames a few seconds after the collision. The two people in the Volvo were not injured and were able to pull the pilot free from the aircraft. The pilot had initiated a go-around after aborting the landing attempt due to turbulence, and had then lost full directional control of the aircraft. The report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch noted that the accident occurred after the pilot attempted to avoid a collision with tall trees and a potential crash on top of parked aircraft, having by then only very limited control of the plane. However the cause was not wholly conclusive due to the extent of the impact and the subsequent fire damage and as such stated that "a pre-impact anomaly could not be entirely excluded".[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-36794031
  2. ^ "Halcrow Group Limited : North Weald Aviation Intensification Options" (PDF). Rds.eppingforest.gov.uk. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  3. ^ Prudames, David (2005-02-12). "Historic First & Second World War Airfields Granted Listed Status". 24 Hours Museum. Retrieved 2006-08-21. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived 11 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "The Squadron". Northwealdairfieldhistory.org. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  6. ^ "Weald Aviation". Weald Aviation. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  7. ^ "Official site". North Weald Airfield Museum. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "North Weald Airfield Museum". Epping Forest District Council. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "North Weald Fire Rescue". North Weald Fire Rescue. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "Memorial". Northwealdairfieldhistory.org. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  11. ^ "Enquiry in public report rejects housing development on North Weald Airfield". North Weald Airfield Users Group. 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-21. 
  12. ^ "EFDC Cabinet Meeting 7th September, 2017". Epping Forest District Council. 2017-09-07. 
  13. ^ "3 die in mid-air collision". BBC News. 2000-04-19. 
  14. ^ "C150 G-INGR and Yak 50 RA02030" (PDF). AAIB Report. December 2000. 
  15. ^ "Pilot rescued as plane hits car". BBC News. 2010-05-09. 
  16. ^ "Aero AT-3, G-UKAT". AAIB Report. December 2010. 

External links[edit]